Jun 28, 2017 Issues: Congressional Issues

Washington, DC (June 28, 2017) Congressman Steve Pearce yesterday introduced legislation to award the Congressional Gold Medal to the troops and nurses who fought in the defense of Bataan, Corregidor, Guam, Wake Island and the Philippine Archipelago during World War II.

“This year marks the 75th Anniversary of the Bataan Death March. The events associated with the March, and the March itself, hold tremendous historical significance for New Mexico. Nearly 2,000 of the men involved were members of New Mexico National Guard units. The Battle in the Philippines, especially the Bataan Death March, and ensuing internment, forced so many to face unspeakable horrors in the name of freedom. Our nation must never forget the heroism and courage of all those involved. The actions of these incredible men and women embody the qualities we have come to use when defining the Greatest Generation. I am truly honored to be able to introduce this bill with my colleagues to ensure our nation rightly recognizes the service and sacrifices of the troops and nurses involved in Bataan and all associated Battles in the Philippines. ”

On December 8, 1941, one day after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the 200th Coast Artillery Regiment began taking fire from enemy troops, as did many other units in the region. Under General Douglas McArthur’s command, the U.S. Armed Forces in coordination with Filipino soldiers admirably held the Japanese forces at bay for months, changing the momentum of the war in the Pacific.

With their main fighting force cut off from supplies and facing starvation, many of troops defending the Pacific region were forced to surrender into enemy hands. Over the following week, these service members endured a 65 mile march with no food, water, or medical supplies resulting in thousands of deaths, known today as the “Bataan Death March”. The prisoner camps, where the survivors of the march were detained, were just as horrific with abysmal conditions; leading to an estimated 400 deaths per day. Fewer than 50 survivors are alive today.

Receiving a Congressional Gold Medal is the highest expression of national appreciation for distinguished achievements and contributions that Congress can give.